The Meaning Of Iraqi Freedom

The Meaning Of Iraqi Freedom
March 23rd, 2009  
Team Infidel

Topic: The Meaning Of Iraqi Freedom

The Meaning Of Iraqi Freedom
Chicago Tribune
March 22, 2009
Pg. 31

By Jawad al-Bolani
President Barack Obama's announcement of a firm schedule for American forces to be drawn down in Iraq was an eagerly awaited decision that honors the sacrifice of America and her allies by giving Iraqis an independent democracy upon which to build.
When Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched in 2003, there was an explicit promise made to Iraqis that they would one day be free. Free from tyranny, yes, but also free to shape our national destiny. Back then, no one knew exactly when and how this would be achieved. But with Obama's decision, we now know when. Some thought it could take a thousand years. It has, in fact, taken just over six years for freedom to be tantalizingly near.
But how can freedom be secured?
As the transfer of power in Iraq moves forward, responsibility for the security and stability of Iraq will continue to fall on the shoulders of Iraq's ministry of the interior, an organization of approximately 500,000 personnel. As the largest employer in Iraq, the ministry coordinates, maintains and commands a variety of police and security-related forces, including the Iraqi Police Service, the National Police, the Department of Border Enforcement and the National Information and Investigations Agency. These men and women have been targets of some of the most heinous acts of terrorism, yet our ranks continue to swell with new recruits, eager to maintain the stability necessary for Iraq to succeed.
During the first few years after Saddam Hussein's regime fell, Iraq was an unmitigated disaster. Corruption, sectarian conflict, agitation from outside forces and general mismanagement were pervasive, preventing us from rebuilding our infrastructure and returning a sense of normalcy to the country.
When I was appointed minister of interior in 2006, the ministry was a mirror reflection of these conditions and factions. Now, according to a recent study by the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations at The College of William and Mary, the ministry "has turned an important corner" and is now effectively "cooling the streets" of Iraq. We've tackled corruption by firing 62,000 employees and begun to dismantle sectarianism by prohibiting all political activity by police officers and creating a force made up of all Iraqis, Shiite, Sunni and Kurd. It is my hope that again the ministry will be a mirror of Iraq, only this time for a country united and at peace.
As the U.S. prepares to bring home its troops, Americans, regardless of their position on the war, can be assured that Iraq does not intend to squander our gift of freedom. The sharp decline in crime and violence here is proof of that. We have survived hell on Earth and still fill the streets, the markets and the schools. We now have a chance to be the first workable Arab democracy. Challenges remain, of course, as we continue to combat militia infiltration and the death rattle of the insurgents, but momentum is on our side.
America has paid a dear price in Iraq. Now, as you are faced with one of the most grave economic situations in history, with dangerous challenges from Iran, Southeast Asia and North Korea, and with ecological disasters looming, America's involvement in Iraq has forced it to deal with these issues with one hand tied behind its back. By committing to draw down its forces in Iraq, the U.S. has freed up powerful resources and creativity to address the many economic and geopolitical issues on the near horizon. "Iraqi Freedom" means freedom for America too.
Jawad al-Bolani is Iraq's interior minister.

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